“[We’re] really thinking about what the future of 82nd Avenue should look like…”
PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – The view of Portland’s growth is no more evident than on 82nd Avenue.
When the first sidewalk was laid on the roadway, it was on the outskirts of the city – a four-lane highway connecting the north and south of the city, predating the freeways that have since been the main connectors.
Portland Bureau of Transportation spokesman Dylan Rivera said that for this reason, it made sense for the city to take the route of the Oregon Department of Transportation.
“We need to treat it like the urban main street that it is, not the rural highway that it once was,” Rivera said.
On June 1, PBOT took over SE 82nd Ave. of the ODOT jurisdiction to deal with the changing environment. Rivera says the city has a design team that understands urban streets, rather than designs focused on state highways.
SE 82nd Ave. is a congested stretch of tarmac that poses safety concerns. Nineteen people have been killed in 15 years on the road, according to Rivera – one of whom died after being hit by a car on Monday night.
“We plan, identify, design and implement critical security and maintenance fixes that the community has already identified,” he said.
The changes will come in two phases, both beginning in one form or another this year. Rivera says, knowing that change was coming, the city had already designed changes around crosswalks, lighting and traffic changes.
The first phase is “critical fixes” to bring SE 82nd Ave. to PBOT standards. For example, less than 10% of crosswalks along the road meet city standards. The objective is to upgrade 75% of crossings.
The first crossing facilities will come later in 2022, with the painting of the pedestrian crossings. In 2023, a larger construction of illuminated and flashing crosswalks will begin. Half a dozen pedestrian crossings, including four embankments planted with trees, will be built in total.
The need for pedestrian safety is major, as the city’s busiest bus line, line 72, runs on 82nd SE. PBOT is on a “mission of zero” traffic-related deaths, and Rivera says SE 82nd Ave. is a “very big part of it”, as the road is one of the most rugged corridors in Rose City.
Officials say $80 million from the US bailout will fund this phase of the project. The second phase begins this summer when PBOT will hold meetings and send out surveys to the community to see what the more substantial transformation of 82nd Avenue will look like.
The options are wide open right now, including considering cycling, public transit, or other changes.
“[We’re] think really big about what the future of 82nd avenue should look like, if we have the money to transform it, to make the kind of investments that people really hope for that can be transformative in terms of all the dimensions of what the neighborhood should look like and feel like,” Rivera said.
Rivera says an event calendar for community feedback will be released soon, along with a survey for people living near the road.